Friday, May 8th, 2020
Mercer County virus cases jump by 18
Week's worth of private test results arrive
By Leslie Gartrell
CELINA - Eighteen new positive coronavirus tests were reported on Thursday, raising Mercer County's total number of confirmed cases to 59 - more than triple the number of cases reported last Monday.
In Auglaize County, two new cases were announced, raising that county's confirmed number of cases to 37.
Mercer County's new positive tests had been submitted between April 27-May 5 and evaluated by a private lab, Mercer County Health District health administrator Jason Menchhofer said.
Of the 18 new cases, eight involve men: three from the age of 30 to 40, two from 20 to 30, one from 50 to 60, one from the age of 60 to 70 and one from 80 to 90. Ten involve women: three from the age of 50 to 60, two from the age 30 to 40, two from the age of 20 to 30, two from the age of 40 to 50 and one from the age of 60 to 70. District officials do not release further details about people testing positive.
The health department is looking for any patterns of common exposure. Officials hope to release more detailed information as more data become available.
Officials have found several instances of multiple cases within a household, which might be contributing to the steady increase, Menchhofer said, adding, however, the increase could also be the result of people not taking the danger seriously.
The health district also reported 12 people who have recovered, 80 pending cases, 277 negative test results, nine hospitalizations and one death from COVID-19.
The number of positive tests has spiked within the last two weeks, which Menchhofer said is a sign more people are developing symptoms and getting tested.
Health officials encourage residents to continue taking steps to protect themselves from the virus. People can do so by washing their hands, using hand sanitizer, covering their mouth or nose with a tissue or sleeve when coughing or sneezing and cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces.
People should also continue to practice social distancing, avoid gatherings of more than 10 people, abide by current restrictions on businesses and wear a mask or face covering.
Menchhofer also voiced concern that cases of COVID-19 may increase as the state loosens restrictions.
"We more or less expect an increase in cases as the state reopens," Menchhofer said. "We might be hitting our peak now or a bit later, but we certainly haven't passed it."
The Auglaize County Health Department reported the county's 37th person to test positive is a 34-year-old man, while the 38th is a 29-year-old man. The department also reported one probable case, eight hospitalizations, 19 people who have recovered and three deaths from COVID-19.
As of Thursday evening, the Ohio Department of Health reported 22,131 confirmed and probable cases, 4,140 hospitalizations and 1,271 confirmed and probable deaths from COVID-19.
During a special Mercer County Board of Health meeting on Thursday morning, Menchhofer said the rise of COVID-19 cases over the past two weeks has made contact tracing - the process of identifying people who may have come into contact with an infected person - difficult to complete thoroughly.
Contact monitoring has been more time consuming than the tracing itself, he said. Staff and volunteers must talk daily with the people they've identified through contact tracing to ask for their temperature and other updates.
The availability of personal protective equipment remains an issue as well, Menchhofer said, as shipments can be lackluster. The district is in greatest need of medical gowns.
The board also met in executive session for personnel compensation. After 45 minutes, members agreed to purchase Celina-Mercer County Chamber of Commerce gift cards for all department staff to express their gratitude for their hard work.